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MILDRED (standard:drama, 774 words)
Author: Jennifer GreenAdded: Mar 04 2002Views/Reads: 2215/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Elderly woman reflects back on her life and times.


Copyright 2002 Jennifer Green 

Mildred lived in a retirement home now (you check in, you don't check
out).  She was 85, and still got around pretty well for her age.  She 
kept herself up, dressed nicely and tried to keep active.  She had a 
bad spell a few years ago when she fell and broke her hip, but she had 
finally recovered, thank God. 

Her husband Harry had died nearly six years ago now.   She still missed
him, although like any marriage they had had their ups and downs.  But 
she had stuck it out, through the business failures, the bad years and 
good.  She had been tenaciously attached to him, and supposed that was 
as good as love can get in the long run.  He was a good man, easy 
going, a bit too scattered sometimes, but we all have our faults. 

Mildred went down to the dining room for lunch.  The food here was good,
and the staff was friendly if a bit slow sometimes.  But then again, 
where were any of them going? 

There was the usual group of bridge players, the ladies who had a glass
or two of wine at lunch and dinner, and then there were the droolers, 
as she thought of them.  The ones who needed help just getting around.  
Usually they were alone, or with their aide; God help her if she ever 
got that bad. 

She sat down next to a drooler and her aide and ordered lunch.  She made
small talk and ate her chicken sandwich slowly.  When lunch was over, 
she went back to her room and looked into the activities for the week, 
and signed up for a class.  Then she sat down in her easy chair for a 
nap.  She sat there, thinking about her life.  She had been through so 
much!  The depression, World War II, earthquakes, and now terrorism and 
economic unrest.  Still, she had survived everything.  What doesn't 
kill you makes you stronger.  She had refused to give up, just turn her 
face to the wall like some of the other residents did.  Stop eating, 
stop doing anything.  They were so tired, and she understood, but she 
had kept going.  What else could she do? 

And then there were the women who chased the few men who arrived in the
center.  You should have seen the fuss they made over Paul, a new 
single man in his 70's that moved in a couple of weeks ago.  He was 
healthy, his wife had died, and was still attractive.  The women had 
swarmed around him like buzzards around a fresh carcass.  They brought 
him home made cookies, fussed over him at the senior's events.  Mildred 
would have none of that, she was a lady, to the end. 

Then there were the couples where one was healthy, and the other was
not.  She wondered which was worse, to be alone at the end, or with 
someone you watch deteriorate, year after year.  The men were so much 
more likely to go first. 

She had started getting headaches lately.  She was getting another one
now, a very bad one.  And some visual flashing of lights.  Oh, her head 
ached.  She thought she should get up and get some aspirin, but found 
she couldn't move very well.  Oh!  Maybe she was having a brain 
aneurysm.  The doctor had said that might have been causing her 
headaches.  She couldn't get to the phone - oh, so this is it?  Oh, her 
head!  Oh!   Like giving birth, it's impossible to describe until you 
go though it.  But it was O.K.  All the fuss about things, that was 
life.  Always something to worry about, but really, all there is is 
peace.  Like before you were born.  If you didn't see the tree fall in 
the forest, did it still fall?  She realized you wouldn't have this 
sense of peace unless you were finished with everything you had to do 
on earth.  And she was.  She was now. 

Later on that evening, when Mildred didn't come down for dinner, the
aide checked on her.  She found she had died peacefully in her chair.  
The aide notified the family, and made some arrangements.  She was fond 
of Mildred and would miss her.  She didn't complain too much like some 
of the other residents, and always had a kind word and a smile for her 
friends.  She held her hand a moment, it was still warm and she looked 
so peaceful.  She shed a tear like she always did when one of her 
favorite residents passed on, said a prayer for her, and then went back 
to work. 


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